Let’s Not Misunderstand The True Meaning Of Compromise
by Larry Turner

The other day I was reading an article about how younger people today are less likely to marry early or at all because there is the feeling that to make a marriage really work requires “compromise.”

The definition of “compromise,” according to the Britannica Dictionary, is “a way of reaching agreement in which each person or group gives up something that was wanted in order to end an argument or dispute.” That definition does not ordinarily reflect what young people apparently see as areas where compromise exists because, in most of those instances, there is no real argument or dispute.

For example, a couple planning a vacation may have different opinions on the most desirable place to travel. The husband may want to be in close proximity to a golf course while the wife and kids want a great beach and fun activities. They eventually reach an accord that offers a little of both to the spouses. The same with choosing a restaurant. The wife and kids long for a burger from the drive-in on the highway while the husband likes the flatbread at the Italian restaurant around the corner. They eventually agree so they don’t go hungry. In neither case was there an “argument” or “dispute.” There were simply different opinions on where to go based on each individual’s then-present desires. They never permitted the discussion to reach the level of a conflict between them.

Today’s young men and women need to understand that these daily instances of differences of opinions do not represent conflicts between spouses, simply different desires at that particular time. Nothing more, and certainly nothing to cause a rupture in a marriage.

The bottom line is that marriage involves periodic “discussions” about what to do or where to go, but so does any relationship. A couple of guys or girls going out for an evening are normally faced with choices of what movie to see, what activity to engage in, where to get a snack, etc. Again, these are not compromises, just normal expressions of one’s opinion about something. The only difference in these decisions between two friends and a married couple is the former can walk away from the other person if the decision is unfavorable to them whereas the married couple, we hope, will not take that route about a matter that does not rise to that level of conflict.

So, these situations exist whether you are talking about friends, married couples, two businessmen or women negotiating a deal, or two countries working out a treaty between their two nations about a matter of mutual interest. Life is full of these conversations but rarely does one party feel deprived of something of importance. Just a little fork in the road, which is what life is all about. No road is perfectly straight.